Thursday, October 02, 2008

News of the Day: September 15, 1963

News of the Day
for my parents

It is five days before the bombing.
My father boards a plane, Time
unopened on his lap. In 1963
stewardesses still tiptoe
in Barbie heels, refill his coffee
without asking. He loosens his tie,
scratches the stubble from three timezones.

My mother labors at home, her stomach
clenches with every phone call.
She washes my sister's party dress,
irons miniature pleats over and over.
It is three days before the bombing.

In the hospital, my father bounces me
on his knees the day before the bombing.
He is freshly shaved, his shirt freshly
pressed. He fumbles for a cigarette
he knows he shouldn't crave.

We land the day of the bombing, bumbling
new father and baby girl. He delivers me
to my mother's trembling hands.
She has carried the hope of me
all this time, her seven year child.

They never see the photographs, four
daughters dead in Birmingham. For now,
I am all the news they can hold.

--LJCohen, 2008

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